Nighttime Views of the 2018 Kilauea Eruption

  • Released Friday, March 29th, 2019
  • Updated Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 12:40AM
  • ID: 30977

In early May 2018, an eruption on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano began to unfold. Though Kilauea has been erupting continuously from the Pu’u O’o vent since 1983, the eruption took a dangerous turn on May 3, 2018, when new fissures opened in the residential neighborhood of Leilani Estates. During the summer-long eruptive event, other fissures emerged along the East Rift Zone. Lava from vents along the rift zone flowed downslope, reaching the ocean in several areas, and filling in Kapoho Bay.

A Landsat 8 true-color daytime image from March 27, 2018 shows the landscape before the eruption. Then a time series of Landsat 8 nighttime thermal, shortwave infrared, and near infrared imagery shows the progression of the lava flows from May 16 to August 13. The thermal band (in red) reveals not only the very hot lava, but also cooling lava, which is still hotter than background areas. Shortwave infrared (in the blue channel) can image hot lava through clouds and smoke that block the thermal channel. By August 13, no active lava is visible from space, though the recently deposited lava still glows in the thermal bands even through February 12, 2019. Finally, a February 26, 2018 daytime image reveals the new coastline created by the eruption.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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